Man convicted of attempted murder in shooting of gang associate

By Paris Achen, Columbian courts reporter

Published:

 

A Clark County jury found a Vancouver man guilty of attempted murder in the shooting of a gang associate in 2013 at downtown Vancouver's EconoLodge.

Angelino L. Pena, 32, an associate of the Norteño street gang, was found guilty of both second-degree attempted murder with a weapons enhancement and first-degree assault with a weapons enhancement. The weapons enhancement adds a mandatory additional five years to any sentence.

He is set to be sentenced Aug. 11.

The jury took about four hours to reach its verdict after hearing about two days' worth of testimony and argument in Judge David Gregerson's courtroom. Deputy Prosecutor Dan Gasperino prosecuted the case.

Pena shot another associate of the Norteños with a semiautomatic firearm Jan. 26, 2013, in Room 212 at EconoLodge, 601 Broadway, after an argument about the victim's cousin, according to court records.

However, the victim testified Monday that he couldn't remember what the argument was about. He said he remembers few details about the events leading up to the shooting because the bullet punctured his skull and entered his brain, causing memory loss.

At least two other people were in the motel room at the time, including Elena Espinoza, who paid for the room, according to a court affidavit by Clark County sheriff's Detective Erik Zimmerman.

Another man was asleep at the time of the shooting and awoke to the blast of gunshots, court records said. He saw the victim fall facedown, "motionless, with blood pooling around his face and head," Zimmerman wrote.

Pena then told the witness to "scram," according to Zimmerman.

Pena's attorney, Gregg Schile, argued Wednesday that there was reasonable doubt that Pena had, in fact, actually been inside the motel room and that he had held the gun. He also suggested the shooting may have been accidental. Pena did not take the stand in his defense, and no defense witnesses were presented.

Court records indicate no one called 911 for 10 hours.

Espinoza, who eventually sought help for the victim, reportedly gave inconsistent stories about what happened. Vancouver police indicated in court records that they believe she was trying to provide an alibi for Pena.

She pleaded guilty in September to first-degree rendering criminal assistance and was sentenced to more than two years in prison.

Pena has a criminal history, including assault with a deadly weapon, malicious mischief, harassment, robbery and weapons violations.